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The Search for Christian America Paperback – June 1, 1989
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They cover the founding, and the general religious thinking that prevailed at the time. The Puritan view of America as a "new Israel" is contrasted with Baptists who also settled here. Hypocrisies are exposed and analyzed. The authors show how belief ebbed and flowed throughout the years, a high water mark being the Great Awakening under George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, but by the time of the Revolution the numbers had dropped off substantially, and Christianity was pretty languid. The preaching, the teaching, and the philosophical sources in Revolution-era America are all examined, and the founders are found to owe more to Locke and "real-Whig" political thought than to Paul or Jesus Christ. In fact, it is shown how Paul was distorted to make him more conformable to Locke, and to add a religious motivation to the rebellion.
This is not an "America bashing" book either. In all, they authors strove for a balance between the "did no evil" and the "did no good" extremes. In all, this is an excellent bigger picture view of the question regarding America's founding. I highly recommend it along with Frazer's book.
Though these ideas may seem radical to some readers, Noll et.al. presents a great deal of evidence to back up the work, including references to more scholarly work on the their part and a very helpful and informative bibliographic essay at the end. The text is designed for the general public, so is not cluttered with difficult theological or political concepts, or copious notes.
After reading this, I found I could not consider myself "proud to be an American". Not that America is evil. Noll et.al. show clearly that there is a bit of God and a bit of satan in American history and culture, as there is in every society. But the clear presentation of how far America has been from the ideals of the gospel, and how often this gets covered up, was astounding. I am proud of the good parts- the God parts. But, if I once could, I can not now look at the history any longer and see it as something specially greater than that of other histories and other nations.
"[W]ith their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God."
--Continental Congress, November 1, 1777. National Thanksgiving Day Proclamation; as printed in the Journals of Congress.